Following on from work in the Art Tunnel, I began to explore weaving between fixed structures as a means to develop form. An interesting, and initially unintentional, aspect of the buttress installation was the slight curve made by the woven surface. How would it be possible to take this further?


In hindsight it’s pretty easy to see how a curve can form. Each strand of rope is taut, and the force from intersecting strands in the weave can cause a given strand to deform in a similar way to a catenary. Strands weaving above it will exert a downward force, and vice-versa for ones going below. If the force in one general direction outweighs that in the other, the strand will deform.


This process also works the other way – the strand being shaped into a curve will also change those strands that deform it. This leads to a good deal of complexity and it can be difficult to foresee how a particular arrangement will turn out. I started with something fairly simple – two right-angled lines and a point.


As in the Art Tunnel, using different colours helped to highlight the mechanics of the weave. Trying a slightly more complex arrangement – two lines and two points – gave a more interesting form.



Swapping the points for more lines opened things up a little more.


After some fooling around, it became apparent that the possibilities for these structures are pretty much endless. Weaving from 3D points and lines leads into an interesting compositional space.


Such endless possibilities in turn lead an another, perhaps inevitable, question though – how to pare things down! A very complex arrangement may hold a certain amount of interest, but could some arrangements be more elegant that others? If so, how would one go about finding them? What makes these structures interesting is the way they pass through the space between points and lines. There’s nothing special about a bunch of lines arbitrarily arranged in 3D space, but their relationship to these structures can change that. A good place to start then would be structures that highlight this contrast between their curves and the more mundane lines they originate from. After some more experimenting, the arrangement below used six lines to give a curve that stood out well from them.


The photos below show the same structure seen from different angles.



These structures could have been further developed and shown as models, but there is a tendency when looking at models to just see them from one point of view and then move on. A larger scale installation offers more opportunity for people to engage with the structure and see how it changes the space around it from different viewpoints. Like the installation in the Art Tunnel, the structures may also offer possibilities to transform overlooked urban spaces. They can be scaled up quite a bit while still using relatively lightweight, inexpensive materials, making them well suited for temporary or removable installations. With this in mind I decided make a relatively large scale frame and hang the structure from it.

The work was being installed outdoors at my graduation show at NCAD, so it had to be robust enough to handle a mixture of crowds and alcohol! As the evening wore on the level of ‘interaction’ with it would likely increase. Heavy duty scaffolding looked like good option for the rigid part of the installation, with each beam weighing from 40kg to 60kg.


The base part of the frames were surprisingly easy to erect – pretty much single-handedly.


Things were more difficult for the upper part, although lifting and locking with ropes did the trick. As a disclaimer, if you’re tempted to try something like this yourself get professional advice first. A 40kg beam falling during installation, or afterwards, could cause a lot of damage.


The means of attaching the woven structure was similar to the Art Tunnel installation – plastic electrical conduit and fencing wire.


The weave was done like on a loom, to then be pulled into place after all strands are finished.


A lesson learned from the Art Tunnel was that relatively thin hemp rope looses tension after a few days. With this in mind it helps to leave some extra length so strands can be easily re-tensioned. An argument might be made for hiding details like this, but leaving them in sight opens up aspects of the structure that might otherwise be taken for granted.


Going large-scale allows people to engage with the structure by walking around and through it, getting a feel for how it interacts with the space it’s in. It is of course possible to do this with a model too, but it’s much less likely that viewers will bend and crouch to see it from different angles. The larger scale allows viewers to involve themselves more fluidly.



The increased scale, and perhaps the rough-and-ready materials, also offered more practical ways of engaging with the work, helping to bring it into that interesting area between art and design. There aren’t many pieces in whitewashed galleries that you can relax and have a chat and a beer on!